Election Day June 2, 2020: Polls open “without incident”

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Bloomington city hall a few minutes after 6 a.m. when the polls opened. The half dozen or so voters who were standing in line by the cones, which designate appropriate physical distancing for COVID-19 considerations for voters standing in line. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

A few minutes after 6 a.m. this morning the word came from the precinct inspector standing at the door to Bloomington’s city hall: “The polls are open.”

A half dozen or so voters were standing in line before the polls opened, spaced out by orange cones to maintain adequate physical distance to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

An email from Nicole Browne sent at 7 a.m. sharp said that all polls had opened “without incident.”

At city hall, two campaigns were represented at the start of the day: Kara Krothe for circuit court judge and Shelli Yoder for state senate. Krothe is competing for a judge’s seat Democratic Party nomination with Jeff Kehr. Republican Judith Benckart is the incumbent for that judge’s seat.

Yoder is here in person competing for the Democratic Party nomination for District 40 with John Zody and Trent Feuerbach.

Susan Savastuk, a volunteer with the League of Women Voters, had a pile of face masks she’d been given by poll workers to distribute to voters who wanted one.

Competing for attention with campaign signs were sidewalks around city hall and throughout the downtown chalked with support of anti-racism and anti-police-brutality demonstrations. The killing by Minneapolis police of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, along with other recent police killings of Black men and women, has sparked protests across the country.

Floyd died on May 25 when a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him down with a knee-on-neck hold, an incident that was caught on video. Chauvin, who is white, has been fired and is now charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

One of the more frequently chalked messages promotes a Friday, June 5, peaceful demonstration and march, which is planned to start in Dunn Meadow around 2 p.m. The Dunn Meadow demonstration is supposed to wind up at the courthouse.

Demonstrations at the courthouse have taken place every evening since Friday last week, including Monday night.

According to Monroe County election supervisor Karen Wheeler on the morning of Election Day, about 23,000 absentee ballots were sent out, with about 18,000 returned by last night. Voters have by noon today to turn in an absentee ballot.

In the six days leading up to today, 1,981 people voted in person, Wheeler said.

According to county clerk Nicole Browne, election results are not expected on election day, due to the big number of absentee ballots. They can’t be opened until the day of the election.

Election Central was staffed this morning with two-person bi-partisan teams at tables spaced out in the newly renovated Election Central space at 7th and Madison streets downtown. They were working to open the ballot envelops to prepare them for scanning.

09:39 Arlington Elementary School. Masks are getting handed out by a volunteer, Geoff McKim. He is also on the ballot as a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for county councilor at large, but not campaigning in his mask distributor roll. Joining McKim on the ballot for the Dems primary for those three seats are the other two incumbents, Trent Deckard and Cheryl Munson, along with Dominic Thompson and Karl Boehm. Republicans James Allen and Zachary Weisheit will face the three Democratic Party nominees.

Most people are wearing masks. McKim said he’s distributed maybe five or six. Some have refused to take one. They’re not required for voting.

As of 9:39 a.m. 131 people had voted on Election Day at Arlington Elementary.

10:21 Edgewood High School. Masks are getting handed out by volunteer, Trent Deckard. He’s not campaigning, even though he’s on the ballot as an incumbent for one of the three Democratic Party county councilor at-large nominations, with fellow incumbents Trent Deckard and Cheryl Munson. Dominic Thompson and Karl Boehm round out the field of five candidates for county councilor at large on in the Democratic Primary.

As of 10:21 a.m. 250 people had voted in person at Edgewood High school.

11:34 City Church. John Zody is here campaigning for the District 40 state senate seat. He’s competing for the Democratic Party’s nomination with Shelli Yoder and Trent Feuerbach.

Kara Krothe’s wife, Lisa Leedy, is here campaigning for Krothe for a circuit judge’s seat.  Krothe is up against Jeff Kehr for that nomination. Republican Judith Benckart is the incumbent for that judge’s seat.

By 11:34 a.m. 292 people had voted in person at City Church on Election Day.

12:27 Sherwood Christian Church. Candidate for judge, Jeff Kehr, confirms what John Zody had claimed at the previous polling site stop: When wearing a mask, as they both are today, Kehr and Zody bear an uncanny resemblance to each other. Here at Sherwood Christian Church Kehr and Kara Krothe are campaigning side by side for the same circuit judge’s seat. Republican Judith Benckart is the incumbent for that judge’s seat.

Monroe County Democratic chair Jennifer Crossley stops by to visit with Kehr and Krothe. She records a selfie video of herself with her smartphone to promote voting today.

As of 12:27 p.m. 426 people have cast a ballot in person at Sherwood Christian Church.

12:55 Southside Christian Church. No candidates are campaigning here. It’s not clear if that’s because the parking lot offers no place with any shade from the sun, which is out in full force today, or if the benefit from the time investment here is estimated to be low. The temperature is about 84 F degrees according to National Weather Service, probably warmer standing on the asphalt. It feels a little cooler that it otherwise would because of the 17 mph southwest wind.

As of 12:55 p.m. 295 people have voted at Southside Christian Church.

14:01 Grandview Elementary. Republican Judith Benckart is here campaigning for a circuit judge’s seat. Part of her team is GOP Monroe County political director Taylor Bryant. Competing for the Democratic Party’s nomination for that seat are Jeff Kehr and Kara Krothe.

Here campaigning for a different circuit judge’s seat is Geoff Bradley. Competing for the Democratic Party’s nomination with Bradley is Alphonso (Al) Manns. The incumbent is Democrat Elizabeth Cure, who is retiring.  Republican Carl Lamb will face either Bradley or Manns in the general election.

Here campaigning for the District 62 state house seat is Republican incumbent Jeff Ellington. He faces a challenge in the GOP primary from Greg Knott, who has a volunteer campaigning here on his behalf. Her sign encourages voters to “fight the climate tax.”

Ellington says his tree service has been busy—his guys are working without him today, though.

At all the polling sites today, big orange cones with blue disability tags have been placed at parking spots near to the doors. Here at Grandview Elementary there’s a metal ramp that’s been placed across a bumped up little curb to smooth over the access for wheel chair users.

As of 2:01 p.m. 719 people had voted at Grandview Elementary.

15:45 Update from Monroe County’s clerk, Nicole Browne. As of 3 p.m. the count of in-person voters on election day is 4,555. About 10,000 absentee ballots have been scanned so far. That leaves about 13,000 to go. Browne says: “If you know a poll worker, please give them a virtual hug.”

Photos: City hall, Election Central

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